What Networks Will Utilities Use for the Smart Grid?

[qi:_earth2tech] The Internet and telecom buildouts have delivered billions of dollars of value to users and company shareholders, and the smart grid will soon start delivering similar worth via jobs and energy savings. But utilities now have to make choices about what networks they will construct or utilize for these deployments. While 96 percent of the smart grid networks in use are based on proprietary RF mesh technology, according to Pike Research’s Clint Wheelock, utilities are starting to look at options like cellular, WiMAX, metro Wi-Fi, and broadband over power lines. In some rare cases, utilities are even turning to fiber, like municipal utility EPB in Chattanooga, Tenn. Do utilities really need fiber-style 500Mbps of bandwidth to move energy information-based data services? Probably not, but it certainly helps to add on smart grid services as a twist on the “quadruple play” if a utility is looking for some stimulus funds to help the project along.